The names Delage, Panhard and Facel Vega should get any car enthusiast’s blood pumping. These three French car manufacturers are among the most well-respected in the vintage car industry, often laureled for their outstanding creativity and forward-thinking technology. It’s also what inspired the name of Depancel, the young French watch company with a keen sense for tasty car-inspired designs. Watches like the handsome Allure Chronograph Tangerine Limited Edition or the surprising Serie-R Cruiser are just two of the examples this brand has brought to the table. New to the collection is this Legend 60s Chronograph, the first hand-wound chronograph by Depancel.
Depancel is fueled by a passion for vintage cars and motorsports, often from French manufacturers (but not exclusively) and with a focus on delivering value-for-money watchmaking. The company regularly enlists the help of the public to co-create watch collections such as the Serie-A Allure Chronograph. A clever move employed by multiple brands, ensuring customer involvement and commitment from a very early stage. As said, inspiration often comes from the world of cars, and the new Legend 60s is no exception.
The Legend 60s Chronograph comes in a compact 39mm stainless steel case, which tops out at 13mm in height. Although not the slimmest of watches, it never felt out of proportion in hand, or on the wrist during my time with it. The finishing is a mix of polished and brushed surfaces, with polished chamfers here and there. A box-shaped sapphire crystal sits on top, with a second one revealing the movement. On the right-hand side, we find traditional mushroom-style pushers for the chronograph, and a side and decorated pull-out crown. On the opposite side, there’s a plaque with the individual number for the watch. It’s all very typical of the style of chronographs from the 1960s, which is to be expected given the name of the watch.
The dial comes in two configurations, both of which will surely delight a lot of people. It’s available in a Panda-style silver dial with black sub-register (the one we had for this review) or a black-with-silver Reverse Panda-style dial. Both have a vertically brushed finish and offer excellent legibility, with applied numerals and a double tachymeter/pulsometer scale running along the outer edge. The sword-shaped hour and minute hands are simple and effective and accompanied by a red-lacquered chronograph central seconds hand for that racing touch. The subdials have a concentric grooved pattern and black or white contrasting hands. Again, the design is very period-correct to the era of watches it draws inspiration from.
On the inside, we find the hand-wound Seagull ST1901 chronograph movement. Based on the historic Venus 175 calibre, this is produced in China and is regularly found in mechanical watches priced below the EUR 1,000 mark. It’s produced by the Tianjin Seagull Watch Group, which acquired Venus in the late 1960s, complete with machinery and designs. The movement runs at a rate of 21,600vph and delivers 45 hours of running time when fully wound. Although it’s not Haute Horlogerie, it performs admirably and is a reliable alternative to its more costly Swiss counterparts.
The Depancel Legend 60s Chronograph is limited to 240 individually numbered pieces during the pre-order campaign. It comes on a micro-perforated leather strap in brown (for the silver dial) or black (for the black dial), finished with either a pin buckle or a folding clasp (at a EUR 25 premium). Alternatively, Depancel also offers a very retro Beads-of-Rice bracelet (at a premium of EUR 100). The price during the pre-order campaign is set at EUR 650, and pre-orders can be made from March 28th to April 16th 2023. Each watch will be delivered with a special poster signed by Depancel’s founder.
After the pre-order campaign, the watch will be available towards the end of the year again at a starting price of EUR 695 (leather strap, pin buckle). All in all, it’s a very compelling package at a very attractive price, which neatly ties in mechanical watchmaking with a passion for cars without becoming gimmicky.
For more information, and to register for a pre-order, please visit Depancel.com.
This post first appeared on Monochrome Watches - An online magazine dedicated to fine watches.